About 9 years ago friends of mine encouraged me to start a web log, which we now refer to as blogging. It was a growing trend at the time, but I didn’t start writing in order to be in fashion. I did it so it would help me remember.
It can be painful to go back and read what you wrote years ago, not because your writing may have improved over the years, but because your thoughts, ideas and opinions have most likely morphed along the way. This is why I will never get a tattoo. I don’t want a permanent reminder that I used to think barbed wire around my bicep would be a good idea. My old writing does that just fine.
One obvious reason that it’s good to take time to remember is to keep from making the same mistakes twice. History is a good teacher. And so is pain. As a young boy, I recall finding out that it was not a good idea to stick a screwdriver in an electrical outlet. Experiences like this teach us valuable lessons that guide us along a better path.
But history and pain can also serve to coax us into making the same decision again. We just recently lost our dog, Maddie. Seven years ago, I was the last holdout in the family in wanting to get a dog, but I eventually and reluctantly said yes. So on Valentine’s Day of 2008, I decided it was time to give in and brought the little beagle home from the shelter. Little did I know how important that decision would be.
It was five years ago this month that I sat in the consultation room at St Elizabeth’s hospital, listening to the OB/GYN tell me the unsettling news that Karen had ovarian cancer. All of a sudden I felt incredibly alone as the surgeon left, leaving me to recover from the shock.
Over time, I discovered that Maddie was not just a dog. It appeared that somewhere along the line she had obtained multiple degrees; in nursing, counseling and pastoral care.
I remember the dog sitting with Karen on those ugly days of recovery from chemo treatments.
I remember how Maddie would prance and yip when I walked in the door, as if she could detect the burden on my shoulder, and wanted to do her part to help alleviate it.
I remember those long walks Karen and I would take and realize that it was probably Maddie walking us, and not vice versa, to allow us time to talk and process our thoughts and feelings.
In this way, history and pain that says I should get another dog.
If I spend too much energy trying to forget the pain, I will end up missing the importance of that which caused the pain.
I feel the pain of Maddie’s loss because she was a vital part of the family.
And I take time to remember the pain of five years ago because it further endears me to the woman feared I would lose.